Google’s launch into the learning management system world was received with a lot of buzz.
Classroom, a centralized place for teachers and students to communicate, work on assignments and have discussions, is scheduled for release in September 2014.
As a teacher who utilizes Google Apps for Education every day in his classroom, this has certainly piqued my interest. I’ve been gathering any resources about Google Classroom I can find, including:
- The Google Classroom official site
- Google’s Classroom overview document
- A case study document on Fontbonne Hall Academy’s Classroom use
- A case study document on Clarkstown Central School District’s Classroom use
- TechCrunch Classroom preview article
Not all of the details are out there yet as Google is still making changes before making Classroom available in beta this summer and to everyone in the fall. But as details come out, here’s how I’m hopeful it will make life easier.
It could …
1. Put all of our Google Apps work in one place — My students do a lot of bouncing around in their use of Google Apps. We have a class website with links to important documents. We turn in and collaborate on documents via gClassFolders. Classroom will probably save time and headaches in trying to find scripts, add-ons and solutions to making Google Apps work with what teachers want to do.
2. Make more features available to teachers of all tech ability levels — This year, I’ve managed and tweaked Google Apps by using Doctopus, Autocrat and Flubaroo to make my Google products work for me. I know how to install and modify these features, but many teachers don’t. Classroom appears to integrate many of these favorite geeky Google features into Classroom in a way that makes them accessible to anyone.
3. Centralize communication between teachers and students — In Google Apps, among others, there are comments within files, chats within files and Gmail. As far as a home base for a class, the options are few (aside from creating a website for your class). Classroom is supposed to integrate Gmail, class announcements and a question-and-answer feature for one-stop classroom communication.
4. Simplify providing feedback on assessments to students — I have struggled to find a good solution to giving assessment feedback to students. Autocrat will create documents with data from a spreadsheet for each individual student. Flubaroo will grade assessments made in Google Forms. Classroom looks to do what other learning management systems (like My Big Campus, Canvas and Schoology) do and give teachers an easily accessible place to provide assessment feedback.
5. Make classroom creation a breeze — Creating shared folders in gClassFolders has been a huge time saver for me. But it’s not easy — especially if you’ve never created them before. Classroom incorporates an invite code — much like Edmodo does — to streamline and simplify the process.
6. Make other learning management systems shudder — This will be a byproduct of Classroom, and it will improve learning. If other LMS’s want to stay at the table and stay relevant, they’re going to have to pull out all of the stops.
7. Become a permanent fixture for Google — This is one huge concern about Classroom I have. I became a fan of Google Reader, which collected blog posts and other publications to RSS in one easy-to-access place. Then Google discarded this service — one that had a very loyal user base. Google has a history of doing this to features that don’t meet its needs anymore. If I’m making the switch to Classroom, I’d like to know that Google has committed to it.
8. Save some trees and sore muscles — Hauling papers around is a huge hassle. Google Apps for Education has saved me time, paper and tired arms. Google Classroom will certainly do that, too.
9. Provide a grade-recording interface — Logging grades has been handled by most schools in separate software. Google Classroom appears to have a grade management option (see screenshot). With powerful communication tools incorporated, sharing grade information with the right audiences could be really easy with Classroom.
10. Become a hub for all Google Apps work for all classes — Not only can Classroom become a go-to location for your class, it can become the place for all of a school’s classes. In my school, teachers house their digital work in various locations. Having it all in one place will certainly streamline efforts.
What else interests you about Google Classroom? What features does it need to have? Share your comments below!
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